Ask the average American what comes to mind when thinking about Thanksgiving and he will probably say food — specifically turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie.
For Angie Roberts Harris, owner of London’s Phat Daddy’s Pizza, it is definitely about food — and preparing lots of it.
The restaurant is gearing up for its sixth annual Free Thanksgiving Day Dinner.
This year’s menu consists of that ubiquitous gobbling bundle of tryptophan, turkey, as well as its equally ubiquitous substitute, ham, and a selection of sides — stuffing, potatoes and gravy, corn, baked beans, rolls, drinks, and pumpkin pie.
And you don’t even have to leave your home — Phat Daddy’s will deliver it directly to your door.
Harris started the tradition back in 2012. Initially created as a stopgap for meal services that weren’t being provided by one of the local faith-based food pantries that year, the event was put together rather quickly, she recalled.
“That first year we served only 70 or 80 people — kind of spur of the moment, but we grew from there,” she said.
This year she expects over 400 people to partake in the meal.
“We do this for shut ins, the elderly, and people without family or who have nowhere to go,” said Phat Daddy’s driver, Butch Scott. “But it is also for everybody. You don’t have to be needy, you just have to be hungry,” he added.
Harris purchases some of the food herself and collects donations from the public. Without those donations the event could not happen.
“Really nice people just drop stuff off,” she said. “And my customers are some pretty good-hearted people, always giving,” she said with a big smile.
So far, Harris has amassed 594 pounds of turkey, 78 pounds of ham, 96 pounds of both corn and baked beans, 426 rolls, 55 pumpkin pies and more stuffing than you would ever care to stick up a bird.
It takes about 15 people to get the event off smoothly — nine in the kitchen preparing the food and six to deliver. All of them donate their time for the cause.
Certain dishes like the corn will be started on Wednesday to slow cook overnight. The bulk of the meal will be prepared Thanksgiving morning. Harris and her crew will arrive at Phat Daddy’s around 5:30 a.m. and get straight to work cooking the rest of it in order to be done by lunch time.
Deliveries all leave by 11:30 a.m.
Phat Daddy’s itself will open to the public at noon for dine-in and carryout options.
The dinners will be served until they run out, Harris said. In past years, that has happened around 2 p.m., so she advises that folks order or show up sooner than later.
There is no limit set on the amount of dinners that can be ordered.
To place an order for your Free Thanksgiving Day Dinner, call Phat Daddy’s Thursday morning at 740-852-3339.
Reach Andrew Garrett at 740-852-1616, ext. 1616.